By Chris Fung
What could be better than seeing one of the biggest rock bands on the planet at the moment with one of the UK’s most promising young rock bands supporting them on a Sunday evening? Not much is the answer. I was given the privilege to watch 30 Seconds to Mars’ recent show at the Phones 4 U Arena on their Love Lust Faith + Dreams world tour where support came from UK rock/pop-punk outfit You Me At Six.
Having seen You Me At Six play previously at festivals, I was interested to see how they’d step up to the challenge of playing to the arena. They kicked off their set with their track Reckless, one of the more bouncy, upbeat tracks from their 2011 album Sinners Never Sleep. This provided a great opening to their set and got a sizeable amount of the crowd off their feet to warm themselves up. Lead vocalist, Josh Franceschi, has upped his game as a front man and knew all the tricks of the trade for maximum crowd interaction and leading the band into putting all they had into delivering a proper show. The rest of the band, completed by guitarists Chris Miller and Max Helyer, bassist Matt Barnes and drummer Dan Flint, certainly demonstrated they were giving it their all along with showing they were having as much fun as the fans. Sound wise the band sounded great with several songs fitting the arena setting and making use of the venue’s acoustics. Unfortunately some of the 30 Seconds to Mars fans didn’t warm up to the Weybridge quintet due to unfamiliarity of the material and were only there for the main event. For me the band put on a fantastic show and did a job well done of opening for 30 Seconds to Mars. The majority of the set consisted of songs from Sinners Never Sleep including the tracks Loverboy, The Dilemma and Crash alongside old favourites like Stay With Me and Liquid Confidence. The band’s new single, Lived A Lie, from their upcoming 4th studio album, Cavalier Youth, was also present in the set and received a very pleasing reaction which can be taken as a sign that the fans are eager to hear more new material. The band ended their set with the heavier track Bite My Tongue followed by the crowd pleasing Underdog from their 2nd album Hold Me Down. The band are set to tour the UK in the spring next year for a string of headline shows and will be playing at the O2 Apollo on 30th March. It’s a show that is not to be missed out on as their performance at the arena certainly showed that the band keeps going from strength to strength and is destined for great feats.
After a while a bit of a lengthy wait it was time for the main event. You expect a band that creates such epic music as 30 Seconds to Mars to put on an equally epic live show and tonight they certainly didn’t disappoint. The show started with the lights going down and the band being revealed from behind a large curtain that was dropped. The stage set up consisted of large screens at the back and suspended from the ceiling along with the pounding drums of a group of Taiko drummers to add to the epic atmosphere of the opening song Birth from the band’s latest album, Love Lust Faith + Dreams. Lead singer Jared Leto made his entrance in true 30 Seconds to Mars style by being lowered down from the ceiling on a platform attached to one of the lighting rigs. From here the band jumped straight into the live favourite Night of the Hunter from 2009’s This Is War album. This was followed by a mass sing a long during the song Search and Destroy from the same album and then into Conquistador, one of the mammoth tracks from their latest album. For 30 Seconds to Mars the show they put on is as important as delivering the songs live. During the instrumental songs Depuis Le Début and Pyres of Varanasi the band brought with them several acrobats to perform on stage which is one of the features that the band include to make their shows that more memorable. Jared Leto has always been one to please the legions of fans that the band has and as usual gets some lucky members of the crowd up on stage to introduce and request songs. The latter half of the set featured an acoustic section of songs that included acoustic versions of Hurricane and The Kill (Bury Me), an old classic from their album A Beautiful Lie, and also the already acoustic song Alibi. The set consisted almost entirely of tracks from their two most recent albums, This Is War and Love Lust Faith + Dreams, with the exception of The Kill and even a cover of Rihanna’s song Stay. Gone from the set were the more rocky sounding old favourites such as ATTACK and A Beautiful Lie in favour of the more electronic and experimental songs of the band’s more recent material. For those that may not have been familiar with the lyrics to some of the tracks, especially for the lesser known songs, the show may have seemed a bit disappointing at times as Jared Leto has the tendency to not sing the start of some of the epic choruses that people want to hear and so leaves it up the crowd. However this was less of a problem as it has been at some past 30 Seconds to Mars performances as the sheer number of dedicated fans was able to provide a more than adequate rendition of the missed out song lyrics. The end of the main set provided one of the best highlights on the night with the ever pleasing live favourite Closer to Edge followed by the massive anthem that is Kings & Queens. To top the show off, as always Mr Leto invited a large number of lucky fans on stage for an epic climax in the form of Love Lust Faith + Dream’s lead single, Up In The Air. It was nothing short of an incredible live spectacle and you shouldn’t expect anything less from a band that’s fronted by a Hollywood actor! Throughout the show Jared demonstrates his incredible ability as a singer and front man as he led an arena full of fans through numerous epic sing a longs and chants that always culminated in a satisfying feeling at the end of each song. The rest of the band members, guitarist Tomo Milicevic and drummer Shannon Leto, do their job of supporting the band leader by providing flawless instrumental volume to each and every song. The phrase that would best summarise the evening’s performance is ‘a show of epic proportions’.